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Thanks to everyone who donated!

Jan 4, 2012
We wanted to send a big thank you to all of you who donated to the show. With just one request on the podcast, we made our December goal! You all really stepped up, and we're extremely grateful.

- your friends at This American Life

We want your snooping stories

Dec 22, 2011

We're working on an upcoming show about snooping - you know, reading someone's diary, email, etc - and we want your stories.

We want to know who snooped on whom (the story can be from the POV of the snooper or the snoop-ee), what was found out (if anything), and what happened afterward (A breakup? Something good? Nothing at all?). We'd like to hear from people who are great at snooping (detectives) and bad at it (got caught or really should've been caught), those who regret it, and those who don't. Also if there's someone who's a serial snooper...wonderful.

Oh and this is important: You need to be willing to tell your story on the radio (we don't have to use names).

Email your story to snooping@thislife.org

Thanks!

This American Life Guest Edits New York Times Magazine!

Dec 22, 2011

These American Lives

Ira writes:

The editors of the New York Times Magazine invited us to edit a section in what they told us is one of their most popular issues every year, "The Lives They Lived" issue, which looks back at the people who died during the year. It's up online now, and hits newsstands this weekend.

A surprisingly funny video they made about it is here.

Judge Williams Steps Down

Dec 20, 2011

Ira writes:

Judge Amanda Williams, who was the subject of our episode "Very Tough Love" has announced that she'll resign from the bench as of January 2nd. Because she's stepping down, ethics charges brought against her by the state's Judicial Qualifications Commission will be dropped.

Earlier this month, the Commission added two charges to the original 12 counts it filed in November. One of those counts accused Judge Williams of allowing her lawyer in the case, John Ossick, to represent litigants in cases she was still presiding over from the bench without disclosing their attorney-client relationship on the court record. The other accused her of putting a man into drug court even though there were no drug charges against him, because he was the nephew of attorney Jim Bishop. When a drug court staffer questioned the decision, according to the charges, Judge Williams replied "Jim Bishop has been there for me for years and years and years. He has never asked me for anything, ever, in the entire time I have been on the bench, to use my power in any case to do anything for anybody and he's asked me to do this. ... And it's that damn simple." She also said, according to the filing: "It's called being a Bishop. And I don't want to have any more conversations about it. I know I'm doing the wrong thing, "

Jim Bishop has denied asking for any favors from Judge Williams.

Judge Williams will be stepping down after 21 years on the bench. In a consent order, she agreed not to seek other judicial offices.

The JQC's jurisdiction is limited to removing judges from the bench. Judge Williams can still face criminal charges for some of the JQC's allegations.

Here's the AP story about Williams' resignation.

Tom the Turkey? No comment.

Dec 6, 2011

Tom the Turkey

Contributor Sam Bungey writes:

If you listened to the story I reported in this week's Poultry Slam about Tom the Turkey, you know that Officer Jeff Day, the cop who actually shot and killed the bird, would not speak to us. At first he declined our request by phone, so my producer Brian Reed and I went to the Chilmark police station to try and convince him in person. We wanted to hear from the last person to see Tom alive.

But when we showed up, Day responded by simply fixing us with an inscrutable gaze. Maybe the dead eyes came with the territory – after all, this turkey had attacked Officer Day so viciously that he felt compelled to pump it full of lead. The slaying might have left quite a mark on the policeman. “Is it that you don’t like talking about the incident?” we asked. Day shrugged.

Honestly, we were surprised. We thought people might be able to laugh about a turkey encounter three years after it happened. We asked Officer Day if any ongoing legal issues prevented him from speaking to us. A firm “No,” and a good old eyeballing was all that Day would muster. We appealed to his sense of compassion (“Brian drove through the snow from New York... I flew here from London”), his vanity (“people loved how you took down that bird”), even his common sense ("more than two million people will hear this, and your side won't be represented"). But it was like trying to get a rise out of a meatball sandwich. Day was unflappable.

“Do you not like reporters?” Another shrug. This one seemed to indicate that, yes, Day was not a committed fan of journalists. But still, some other principle was at play that Day just would not tell us.

In mafia culture, breaking Omertà can be punishable by death. Was something similar at play here, in relation to the turkey? Many people we spoke to about Tom took some time to open up about the memories of the bird. It seemed that, even in death, Tom the turkey maintained a stranglehold on some parts of the community. Certainly, most were reluctant to publicly take sides on the shooting – it is a small island, after all. But Officer Day’s stonewalling was something new. His commitment to silence was almost impressive. Brian pleaded with him: "If people don't want to talk, we like to tell our listeners a reason why. Are you able to give us that?”

“I couldn’t tell you,” said the officer. Perhaps Day just didn’t want to speak ill of the dead.

Pictured: Tom the Turkey and his gang (we're not sure exactly which one is Tom). Photo by Brian Mackey.

We're going to Sundance with Mike Birbiglia

Dec 1, 2011

Sleepwalk With Me

We're thrilled to announce that the film version of Mike Birbiglia's story Sleepwalk With Me will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January. For the last two years Ira Glass and our producer Alissa Shipp have been working with Mike to produce the film.

The official synopsis:
Reluctant to confront his fears of love, honesty, and growing up, a budding standup comedian has both a hilarious and intense struggle with sleepwalking.

Mike's story originally came to us from The Moth, and aired in our 2008 episode Fear of Sleep. Then Mike adapted it into a one man show, and later a book. Mike directed the movie, and wrote it with Seth Barrish (who directed the stage version), Joe Birbiglia and Ira Glass. The film stars Mike, Lauren Ambrose, Jim Rebhorn and Carol Kane. It was shot by cinematographer Adam Beckman, who also shot our television show. Jacob Jaffke produced.

Congrats to Mike and all involved in this project. Wish us luck in Park City!

Pictured: a bloodied Mike Birbiglia collects himself after a sleepwalking injury outside La Quinta Inn.

New USB drive & holiday merch sale!

Nov 30, 2011

Attention holiday shoppers,

Correction in last week's show

Nov 15, 2011

Ira writes:

In an edit of Gabriel Rhodes's story in last week's show, I asked him to insert erroneous information about sound waves and electromagnetic waves, and then acted so completely confident about it—misremembering a science show I worked on years ago—that nobody in the editing process bothered to fact check it. This was very much my mistake and not Gabe's, and I regret telling him to insert a mistake into his otherwise carefully researched and fact checked story. Thanks to the many listeners who wrote to point out the error. We'll go back and fix this, so the version of the show on the website in a few days will have the correction. He was using electromagnetic waves, not sound waves, for his experiment.

Ira Glass Speaking Event in Woods Hole - POSTPONED

Nov 13, 2011
Ira was supposed to speak at a public radio fundraiser today in Cape Cod, but got caught in a snowstorm in Wyoming and can't make it. He'll come and do his talk NEXT week—same time, same place. If you bought tickets: Your tickets are still good. You can use them next week or get a refund if that doesn't work for you. Apologies for the inconvenience.

The new date: Sunday, November 20th, 4pm
Lillie Auditorium, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts

For refund and other information, check here.